Vendors and Informal traders launch Anti- Corruption and Coordination Task Team

By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

Bulawayo Vendors and Vendors Association (BVTA) and various Bulawayo based vendors associations working in partnership with Transparency International Zimbabwe have established a Vendors and Traders Anti-Corruption and Coordination Task Force to help raise awareness on corruption and help to coordinate and disseminate information among members of associations. The platform seeks to play a watch dog role and be a whistle blower to any corrupt activities that occur in trading and vending areas.  Vendors and traders lamented corrupt practices by some law enforcement agents who solicit for bribes and sometimes confiscate their wares and disappear before reaching the warehouses. More alarming were revelations that women bear the brunt of sexual harassment from some errant law enforcements agents who demand sex in order to let them free.

The idea was proposed at an Informal Sector Governance workshop held at Transparency International Zimbabwe, Bulawayo office. The workshop was meant to assist Vendors and Informal traders understand how corruption occurs in the informal sector; understand the personal and cooperate rights in criminal and civil liability of involvement in corruption and to develop strategies on how to reduce corruption.

Transparency International Zimbabwe says that Zimbabwe scored 21 points out of 100 on the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index and the country is ranked 150 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries. It must be noted that the Corruption Perception Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be and not the informal sector, however the data provided mirrors the informal sector as some services rendered to the informal sector are from various government arms hence the perception that illicit dealings are rampant in the informal sector.

Vendors also highlighted a number of challenges they face in the industry among them lack of support on lines of credit to finance their small businesses as banks and micro- financiers demand collateral. Vendors were encouraged to pursue internal lending and savings, establish group bank accounts, pilot ideas such as Grameen Bank by Mohamoud Yunis. Informal traders called for review of legislation that governs National Social Security to consider schemes that cater for vendors as they are now part of the huge economy sector. Estimates from the government have shown that in 2013 the Informal sector was accounting for $7 billion dollars and against $4billion national budget.

Speaking at the same workshop during a breakaway session Debra Mukasa an official from Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association urged associations to advocate for the formalization of the informal sector in order to be orderly and organized so as to access loans and be recognized by the government. “Formalizing the informal traders will help us to be recognized by the government and also help us to lobby  the government to introduce social security schemes for us vendors” she said. “When we grow old we do have other means of survival but if the government allows us to make small contributions to NSSA, it will cushion us and our families” she added

Mr Dumisani Ncube from Bulawayo Traders Association urged informal traders to consider acquiring pieces of land as associations and construct buildings that they can sublet and the returns be used for social security schemes.

Informal Traders and Vendors Association committed to work closely with Transparency International Zimbabwe in fighting corruption and promotion of their rights. Transparency International Zimbabwe pledged to provide legal services and assist in coordinating the informal traders and vendors associations.

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PRESS STATEMENT ON THE NEW VENDING BAYS FOR VENDORS AND INFORMAL TRADERS: HIGHLANDERS CLUB HOUSE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) would like to acknowledge the efforts demonstrated by the Bulawayo City Council to decongest the City Centre by creating new vending bays at corner Masotsha Ave and Fife Street. (Near Highlanders Club House) This is after our sustained campaign for the local authority to provide appropriate vending and trading bays for our membership.

BVTA continues to call for the Bulawayo City Council to construct  adequate ablution facilities and other related amenities since the new trading area is accommodating over 800 vendors and traders and facilities available are not sufficient to service such a huge number.

BVTA also commends its membership and other associations for taking a heed to pilot this move. The organization commits to closely monitor any moves that may result in granting of unfair advantage to other informal traders and vendors.

BVTA further encourages the Bulawayo City Council to re-direct traffic to the new trading area so as to allay fears and skepticism that the area will not attract customers. This may be done through relocating the commuter omnibus pick up points, introduction of food caravans and erecting billboards notifying prospective buyers of the new sites.

BVTA also acknowledges the seemingly smooth allocation of vending bays by Bulawayo City Council officials that so far has been incident free from malpractices, corrupt tendencies. The organization encourages BCC to diligently guard against double dipping and double allocations of trading bays.

BVTA urges the Bulawayo City Council to avail more trading and vending bays since the sector has become the source of livelihoods for many.

BVTA also commends various vendors associations in Bulawayo for demonstrating the desire to forge alliances and together work for the common good of its members.   The organization believes that such maneuvers are the right tonic to promote and protect the rights of informal traders and vendors.

Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) is an organization that represents vendors and informal traders by engaging in policy research and advocacy to ensure that the rights and interests of vendors and informal traders are protected and catered for.

Contact person: Thabang Nare – Coordinator

Organization Name:  Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA)

Contact Details: 406 Fidelity Building, Fife Street and 11 Ave, Bulawayo.

Phone Number: +2637849442396

Email Address: bulawayovendors@gmail.com

Website: www.facebook.com/bvta.trust